Thriller — The Village (July 30)
M. Night Shyamalan is becoming the new Hitchcock of Hollywood — The Sixth Sense has become a staple suspense film of the late ’90s and The Village looks to follow in Sense’s footsteps. With a plot that includes “mythical creatures” and an all-star cast including Joaquin Phoenix and Sigourney Weaver, if Shyamalan’s script and direction are as sturdy as his previous works, the film looks to be the biggest thrill ride of the summer. — Olga Robak
Honorable mention: The Bourne Supremacy, the second installment of the Bourne trilogy opens only one weekend before The Village.
Animated — Shrek 2 (May 21)
Before Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc. and Ice Age incorporated subtle adult humor into a seemingly childish film, Shrek paved the way. Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and the annoying Eddie Murphy are all back to reprise their roles from the original. This time, Shrek 2 boasts a very talkative Puss in Boots that steps on the Donkey’s (Murphy’s) toes. With a strong following and a summer lacking any “real” animated competition, 2004 could be the year of the Shrek. — P.S.
Honorable mention: Garfield: The Movie is the green ogre’s biggest challenger for the summer’s animated crown.
Urban — Soul Plane (May 28)
Sure, Roseanne made him who he is today, but Tom Arnold is looking to expand his horizons. And what better way to do that than star in a movie with Snoop Dogg? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you’ll be cruising at the comfortable altitude of weed-induced humor, your flight attendants will be happy to serve you a dose of attitude and, if the plot is too much for you, sickness bags will be located in the seat pocket in front of you. Enjoy your flight! — O.R.
Honorable mention: Jamie Foxx and Gabrielle Union star in a story about becoming a best-selling author in Breakin’ All the Rules.
Oscar Buzz — The Stepford Wives (June 11)
Nicole Kidman could be looking at Oscar nomination number three for The Stepford Wives in which she stars alongside Bette Midler and Matthew Broderick. A remake of the 1974 film, it has a suspenseful plot and a few musical numbers that just reek of Academy gold. The Stepford Wives will only be snubbed at next year’s ceremony is if it’s complete garbage, as the voters will recognize even a half-decent performance. — P.S.
Honorable mention: Jude Law, Gwenyth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie practically spells out Oscar for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.
Action — Spiderman 2 (June30)
The web-slinger set records and kicked the comic book film production into hyper-drive when Spiderman grossed more than $114 million its opening weekend. Spiderman 2 is hoping to prove that double the action and computer-generated graphics will lead to twice the gross. But our spider-sense tells us Spiderman 2 will fall short of the original despite a very appealing trailer. The sequel will no doubt be the movie to beat this summer as fans are already salivating from the recent release of Spiderman 2’s theatrical trailer. — Pablo Saldana
Honorable Mention: Brad Pitt put his spin on Greek mythology with the epic Troy, while Hugh Jackman battles the supernatural forces of Transylvania in Van Helsing.
Kids — Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (June 4)
After an almost two-year hiatus, the little wizard with John Lennon glasses and ruffled hair is back, and in the company of Ron and Hermione, of course. The adaptation of the third novel — in which convicted murderer Sirius Black is after Harry — will star, in addition to old favorites, Gary Oldman as Sirius and Emma Thompson as professor Trelawney. The film will also open on the IMAX screen, providing fans with an all-encompassing experience. — O.R.
Honorable mention: Mandy Moore is planing to steal the boys wizard’s magic with Saved!
Prequel — The Exorcist: The Beginning (Aug. 20)
In 1973, The Exorcist scared the nation as moviegoers embraced the demonic picture while religious groups condemned the film. No matter what side of the argument you’re on, there’s no denying The Exorcist is one of the best horror films ever made. After two failed sequels, producers have decided a change of a pace is necessary and an Exorcist prequel was developed. The Exorcist: The Beginning can’t possibly be any worse than The Exorcist II: The Heretic but it has a long way to go before approaching the original shocking story of possession and what will always be arguably known as the scariest film of all. — P.S.
Honorable mention: The Exorcist is the only option.
Comedy — Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (June 18)
Remember the time when Marcia got hit in the nose with a ball? Christine Taylor may not have been the original Brady daughter, but starring opposite husband Ben Stiller and funnyman Vince Vaughn, she’s found her own opportunity to get smacked in the face. Giving their favorite childhood sport a spin, the two Hollywood comedians will make sure you “grab life by the ball.” — O.R.
Honorable mention: Will Ferrell extends his comedic resume with Anchorman and hopes to recapture the success of Elf and Old School.
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